“Accountability” is one of the most overused – and least understood – words in business. And it’s one of the major gaps I hear about from many leaders. People tell me “we need better accountability” or “no one is accountable” so frequently, it’s heartbreaking. Because I know not much happens without it… and I understand it’s usually not a simple “people problem”… it’s typically an organizational and leadership problem.
In last week’s episode with Dan Rawsthorne, we touched on the relationship between Alignment and Accountability. As I reflected on that, and on some recent client conversations, I realized Alignment is worth an episode all on it’s own (or probably several).
So this week, I provide a primer on Accountability: what it really means, why it’s so often lacking, and how leaders can build an aligned culture that enables true Accountability. It’s all the stuff I wish someone had taught me (and my leadership team) about Accountability decades ago… instead of having to learn it the hard way.
- Accountability and Responsibility are quite different things, but are often confused.
- Responsibility is about what you do or produce.
- Accountability is about the results and outcomes you OWN.
- It’s not enough that you “assign” or “delegate” accountability to a role. Individuals must ACCEPT accountability.
- It’s ineffective to “hold someone accountable” for something, if they don’t hold themselves accountable (take ownership) first.
- If the accountable person doesn’t believe in the goal, the purpose behind it, that it’s achievable, or why it’s important… you’ve lost already.
- Looking at how the eight dimensions of Alignment (Purpose, Passion, Products, Priorities, Plans, Practices, Processes and Performance) relate to Accountability, we can formulate a “recipe” for a culture that supports true Accountability.
Books I mention: (click the images to find them on Amazon)
As I said in the podcast – each of these books is excellent, and they all present similar approaches to Alignment and Accountability, but the best fit for each one is a bit different. They’re aimed at businesses of different sizes and maturity levels, at different points along their growth trajectory. Reach out to me via the comments below, via email, or a voice message, and I’m happy to give some advice on the best approach to start with, for your specific situation. Or if you’d like to talk personally in more detail, complete the brief “new client application” below, and schedule a time slot that’s convenient for you. I don’t charge for this… I just want to collect a little info on you and your situation, so I can be best prepared for our call.